Terror of Nagash
Episode 6 - Voyage to Thunderspire Labyrinth
Return To Winterhaven:
Upon their return to Winterhaven, the party took a closer look at the items they were able to gather from Kalarel’s chamber before it collapsed; a small pouch containing some gold coins and gems, and a note.
Greetings Kalarel my lord.
Although you are no longer a member of our ranks, we have an offer for you that can profit us both. During your time in this region, if you should capture any humanoids, we are eager to buy them. We have duergar allies in Thunderspire in need of slave stock. If you are interested, send an envoy back to me. My messengers will show the way.
Chief Krand of the Bloodreavers
“The Bloodreavers are the bastards that captured my family. I’ll not stop till they pay for what they’ve done” Sting uttered with hate in his voice.
“Aye, and we’ll stand with ya laddie” replied Balomir.
And Paelias “That sounds like a noble plan of action, I too will lend my blade to your cause.”
After a restful evening at the inn, the party visited Douven at the temple.
“You’ve returned! Tell me, what happened!” came Douven’s excited words.
And so, the party relayed their story of encountering the ghost of Sir Morgan, of taking the tunnel to the underground cavern, their fight with extra-planar beasts, the undead guardian at the bridge, the Teifling zealots in the temple, their encounter with Kalarel himself and their escape as the cavern collapsed.
“Tell us, Douven, what did Kalarel mean when he said the portal must be opened, it is the only way, the only path?”
“I don’t know what he meant by these things. His mind has been so infected by hate and despair, these could only be the words of a madman.” And with that, Douven retold the story of Kalarel’s fall; the loss of his wife and his conversion to Nagash.
“My friends, good brother Douven is still weak from his ordeal. I must ask that you leave him to rest” the head priest said as he lead us out of the chamber.
Then, once out of earshot from Douven, “I have news that I did not want Douven to hear. He is still weak and need not be troubled by these affairs. There have been abductions in the surrounding area. Men and women have been taken from their homes in the middle of the night. There are rumours that creatures, possibly goblins, have been seen leading people to the east. I beg of you, please, find these poor people and bring them home.”
Gripping the handles of his blades, Sting hisses, “Sounds like the work of those damned Bloodreavers. We’ll see to it that they regret the suffering they’ve caused.”
And with that, the party began making plans for a journey east.
Paelias consults his leaders:
Paelias examined the ring he held in his hand, trying to understand its significance. Seemingly made entirely of gold, it was well-crafted and heavy for its size. While various spidery designs were etched into its surface, there were no jewels and no obvious writing. Paelias simply could not understand why this ring was important to the Council – and to Kalarel.
He thought for a moment about the fate of the mad servant of Nagash, recalling the sight of the defeated man being pulled toward the portal. With a shudder, he pulled himself back to the here and now, and undertook to report to his masters.
Sliding into the restful trance of the Eladrin, Paelias touched the markings on his left forearm, commanding them to come alive. Soon, he could feel the brush of the Council’s touch on his mind.
“Do you have the ring?” was the immediate question. No greeting, no typical Eladrin formality. Clearly, the Council was agitated.
“Yes, I hold it in my hands,” Paelias replied. Paelias then opened his mind to the probing of the Council, allowing them to witness the events leading to the demise of Kalarel and the liberation of the ring. He could feel the sense of relief.
“Good! Good. You must get the ring to a contact of ours. Seek out Elandil at the Half Moon Inn in Thunderspire. See the ring safely delivered at all costs.” And with that, Paelias’ connection with the Council was broken.
Paelias looked once again at the ring he held, and wondered what could cause such concern and even fear amongst the Council. To his eye, it was simply a ring.
Approached by merchant:
Rumour travels quickly in the small town of Winterhaven. Having just decided to travel to Thunderspire in an attempt to find the slave-hunting Bloodreavers, the party is approached by a local merchant, Bairwin Wildarson.
“I understand you are travelling to Thunderspire,” he began. “I have some items I need delivered there, and your reputation as a trustworthy… and hardy… lot precedes you. I would ask that you see this casket delivered to Gendar. He is a well-known Drow trader in the Thunderspire; you should have no difficulty finding him. He is expecting the delivery, and will give you a package of Drow Fortune Stones in return. I will happily pay you 500 gold coins on your safe return with the fortune stones.”
Paelias noticed a discernible twitch at the corner of Galt’s left eye.
“Good sir,” Galt started. “Travel to the Thunderspire is long, and fraught with danger…”
Sensing that this could be a lengthy negotiation, Paelias glanced around at the rest of the party. Balomir had a pained look on his face that plainly said he’d rather be drinking. Sting was eagerly sharpening his blades, seemingly eager to be on with the next leg of the journey. Woodie had wandered off to chat up the elf herbalist. Paelias was pretty sure he could hear them discussing “apples”.
“So it is settled then!” Galt announced triumphantly. “We get 150 gold up front and the remainder on successful delivery of the fortune stones when we return. Just hand your casket over there to Paelias – he’ll carry it for us.”
With that, Paelias, placed the small, locked casket into the Bag of Holding, and said “We should see about getting stocked up and be on our way.”
Prepare for the road:
“Good idea, lad,” Balomir agreed. “But I want tae find out what we can about these Bloodreavers afore we go.”
The group decided to split up, with Balomir finding his way over to the tavern – ostensibly to talk to the off-duty guards about what they have seen and heard. Paelias sought out his friend, the local historian in Winterhaven. The others went about restocking supplies.
At the tavern, the guards welcomed Balomir with an arm-wrestle and a wee pint, and explained they really didn’t have much information on the disappearances.
“What little we know comes from people who have managed to escape, and a few unsuccessful search parties we’ve run,” one guard said.
The guards go on to explain to Balomir that the bands of kidnappers appear to be slave-traders. They are well-organized, and appear to be primarily goblins. From what Balomir can gather, they are not the same band as those following Kalarel; they are probably from some other tribe.
Around the same time, Paelias was learning all that anyone could ever want to know – and much, much, more – about local history and customs around Thunderspire. Of particular note was the fact that the Thunderspire was a major trading hub between the underworld and the top-landers. It was a wretched hive of scum and villainy and a place where just about anything could be acquired for the right price.
When the party met up once again, Balomir and Paelias compared notes – both had uncovered the same lead: it was likely a group known as the Bloodreavers that was behind the abductions, a powerful slave-trading organization operating out of Thunderspire.
“We picked up a few supplies, including two healing infusions,” Sting said. “Are we ready to leave?”
“Aye laddie, let’s go,” said Balomir.
“Ready,” said Paelias.
“Ready,” said Galt.
“Nice drums…” said Woodie, following Balomir but staring back at the elven herbalist.
The journey was uneventful and after two days of marching, the party reached Fallcrest.
Standing amid the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River, travelers and traders using the old King’s Road, the dwarven Trade Road, and the river all meet here. The surrounding ridges shelter several small valleys where farmers and woodsfolk live; few are more than six or seven miles from the town. In general the people outside Fallcrest’s walls earn their living by farming or keeping livestock, and the people inside the walls are artisans, labourers, or merchants.
Fallcrest imports finished goods from the larger cities downriver and ironwork from the dwarf town of Hammerfast, and exports timber, leather, fruit, and grain. It also trades with the nearby town of Winterhaven. The surrounding hills hold several marble quarries that once produced a good deal of stone, but the area has little demand for ornamental stone these days, and only a few stonecutters still practice their trade.
Being a natural crossroads for trade, Fallcrest was a prosperous city for centuries. When the empire of Nerath began to crumble about a century ago, Fallcrest continued to flourish-for a time. Ninety years ago, a fierce horde of orcs known as the Bloodspears descended from the Stonemarch and swept over the vale. Fallcrest’s army was defeated in a rash attempt to halt the Bloodspears on the Gardbury Downs. The Bloodspears burned and pillaged Fallcrest and went on to wreak havoc all across the Nentir Vale.
In the decades since the Bloodspear War, Fallcrest has struggled to re-establish itself. The town is a shadow of the former city; little trade passes up and down the river these days. The countryside for scores of miles around is dotted with abandoned homesteads and manors from the days of Nerath. Once again the Nentir Vale is a thinly settled borderland where few folk live.
This is a place in need of a few heroes.
The party’s first stop was the Temple of Erathis where they enquired about the Bloodreavers. The high priestess told of the slaver’s activities in the region. Led by a goblin named Krand, they trade slaves at Thurderspire Mountain to the denizens of the Underworld. She told that they had attempted to intervene but the last temple mission had not returned. She feared they had been captured but with so little resources, she was unable to send a second expedition to find them. Any help the party could offer would be greatly appreciated and Erathis would smile down on them with Her blessings.
The following morning, the party set out for Thunderspire Mountain, about a day’s journey east. From the Dwarven Trade Road, a steep cobbled path called the Vale Road turns north and then cuts into the mountain. The road rises through a valley with sparse vegetation and ends at Thunderspire’s base. The mountain’s pinnacle was wreathed in a swirling thunderhead of black clouds, rumbling thunder and bright flashes of lightning.
The party walks about four miles along the Vale Road before seeing the base of the mountain. The Minotaur Gate presents a grand entrance where the road enters the mountain through a 50-foot-tall stone archway hewn from the mountainside. A towering minotaur statue stands on each side of the entrance, glowering down at the them.
The main gate is closed but off to one side, the party spot a smaller entrance. Beyond the Minotaur gate, the Road of Lanterns slopes into the mountain. Green light from copper lanterns dimly illuminates the road. The brick vaulted passage is 30 feet wide and at least 30 feet tall at its apex. Statues of demons, each over 10 feet tall, stand watch along the corridor’s length.
As the party makes its way down the main road, they overhear shouts coming from a side passage.
“You will release the halfling now!”
“Stay out of this, Genasi. This is no business of yours.”
“I’m making it my business!”
Stopping and looking at each other, the party silently decides this sounds like something they should investigate.
“Wait a minute! What’s goin’ on in here?” Balomir calls as he enters the side passage.
In front of him stands a large blue-skinned man dressed in mail and carrying a shield. He’s confronting a group of five hobgoblins. Cowering in the back of the room is a halfling.
“These hobgoblins have abducted this halfling and have plans of selling him into slavery. I will not stand idly by and allow this travesty of justice to continue” the blue man said as he unsheathed his longsword. “Either join me in putting a stop to this or move aside.”
And with that, the party joined with the blue man and engaged the hobgoblins.
The room was quite small, leaving little room for movement. Stacked on one side were four wooden casks 10 feet tall. Balomir and the Genasi confronted the hobgoblins head on while Galt took up position behind the steel clad warriors and cast his eldritch magic from the doorway. Paelias and Sting scaled the casks to attack from the side. While four of the hobgoblins engaged the party with heavy flails, the leader, waving a quarterstaff, cast magic and taunted the party with threats.
“Don’t you know who we are? You’ll regret interfering with the Bloodreaver’s business.”
The hobgoblins fought well but with the blue man’s aid, they were no match for the party’s power.
As the last hobgoblin fell, Balomir turned to the blue man, “You’ve a strong sword arm, friend. Kord has blessed you well.”
“Thank you master dwarf. My name is Tempest and I’m glad you were able to help put a stop to this barbaric business.”
“We’re looking to find more of these Bloodreavers, we’d be happy tae have your sword join us.”
“It would be an honour to join like minded friends in such a noble cause” Tempest replied.
Over in the corner, the halfling stood, brushed himself off and thanked the party for helping him.
“Who are you?” asked Paelias.
With a cocky attitude the halfling replied in a good-natured way. “The names’ Rendil Halfmoon and I live here. Well, not here, but in the Seven-Pillared Hall. Thanks so much for helping me. Come with me to the Halfmoon and I’ll buy you an ale or four. It’s the best inn – well, the only inn – this side of the Labyrinth.”
“How did you get mixed up with these hobgoblins?” Galt asked.
“They grabbed me a few hours ago. I was tailing them ‘cause they were hanging around my family’s inn yesterday. I wanted to figure out what they were up to but they caught me.”
“You mentioned the Seven-Pillared Hall and the Labyrinth, what are those places?” Sting enquired.
“You’re in the Labyrinth, the untamed region in the depths of Thunderspire Mountain. We’re not too far from the Seven-Pillared Hall. Adventurers such as yourselves can easily find employment in the Hall, if that’s what you’re looking for. Just stay on Brugg’s good side – you don’t want him or the Mages of Saruun to pay too much attention to you, if you know what I mean.”
“What do you know about the Bloodreavers?”
“Those hobgoblins you just beat up were some of the Bloodreavers. A lot more of them around, but you won’t see them up here. They hide down in the Chamber of Eyes. Filthy muck eaters, all of ‘em. They’re thieves and slavers, and not necessarily in that order.”
“Thank you again,” Rendil said, “Listen, if you’ve got a score to settle with the Bloodreavers, I can help you out. I can tell you how to find the Chamber of Eyes. I’d like to see someone teach those slavers a lesson.”
“We’ll be taking you up on that offer” said Sting.
“Now, what was that you said about buyin’ us an ale or four? I think I’ll take four… and some stew. Have you got stew?” asked Balomir.
“You betcha, best stew in the Labyrinth” replied Rendil.
And with that, he led the party the rest of the way down the Road of Lanterns to the Seven-Pillared Hall.
Balomir stepped out of the hallway and into the gigantic open area known as the Seven-Pillared Hall.
“Amazing, isn’t it?” Rendil’s shrill voice came from behind him. “This is where it all happens.”
The cavern was huge, large enough to hold a small town. In point of fact, it did. Stores, inns, and residences lined loosely-organized streets, broken only by massive stone columns supporting the cavern ceiling far overhead.
“What’s yer business?” a voice boomed. An ogre moved out of one of the nearby buildings toward the party. “I said: what’s yer business?”
“Awww, come on, Brugg,” Rendil said. “These folks saved my life. They’re just here for some food and drink and shelter.”
Brugg studied the group. “See there?” he asked, pointing to the building from which he came. “Dat dere’s da customs house. Before you leave, you hafta check-in there, cause you gotta pay da duty on any trade ya do. Go about yer business, but ya gotta behave or else.”
“Don’t worry, Brugg,” Rendil said. “I’ll make sure they behave!”
Balomir and Brugg both grunted, and the party was allowed to carry on, soon hitting Rendil’s home and business, the Halfmoon Inn.
“Can we get some stew?” Sting asked.
“And some beer!” Balomir added.
As the party ate and drank, Brugg entered the inn, sat down and ordered himself some ale. The party watched, but Brugg was evidently off-duty and just having a drink.
Galt noted that they still had a delivery to make. “So who’s with me?” he said.
“But I’m nae done drinking!” Balomir lamented.
“I would like to see what I can learn here,” Paelias said.
“I’m going to have a bath and do some naked sword-sharpening,” Sting offered.
“Whoa!... Oooh.. ummm… geez… Yeah, I’m going with you, Galt!” Tempest said.
With that, Galt and Tempest made their way out of the Halfmoon Inn, pausing only to glance back uncomfortably at Sting.
“Awwwwkward!” Rendil said, handing Balomir his next pint.
Paelias moved to the front of the Inn, and asked one of the servers if they knew of Elandil.
“He’s not here now, but he was… maybe a week ago,” the server offered. “I’m not sure where he was heading.”
With that, Paelias thought it wise to retreat to his room, and try to contact the Council for more specific orders. He locked the door, and settled into his familiar trance. He applied his focus only to the tattoo on his forearm.
Paelias pushed harder and dug deeper, but still could not connect with the Council. Perhaps the Seven-Pillared Hall was too deep underground, or perhaps there was some kind of magical obstruction. In either case, Paelias knew he was now on his own.
Taking the package they were given by Bairwin Wildarson in Winterhaven, Galt and Tempest sought out the Drow Merchant they were told about. Finding his shop, they entered.
Behind a counter, pouring over various curios and relics, sat a Drow elf with an eye patch. Looking up and smiling a predatory grin he asked “Can I help you?”
“We were told to seek out a Drow merchant named Gendar.” Galt answered.
“Well, you’ve found him. Now what?” replied the Drow, smugly.
“We’ve a package from Winterhaven. A gentleman by the name of Wildarson said we were to exchange it for some Drow fortune stones.” Galt offered.
“Yes, yes. Let me see the package.”
“Let’s see the stones, Drow.” Tempest threatened.
“Alright, easy does it big boy.” Gendar replied.
Searching through some shelves at the back of the store he returned with a small cloth bag and turned out the contents on the counter; a handful of stones with elven runes carved in them. “Now, the package.”
Handing over the casket, Gendar took it greedily. Retrieving a key from a pocket, he opened it to display a dagger in the curved tiefling style dating back to the ancient days of the tiefling empire.
“Ahh, isn’t it beautiful?” Gendar asked as he held the dagger in his hands.
“And we had a devil of a time getting it here, you wouldn’t believe what we’ve been through. Perhaps you could… compensate us with a little gold” Galt suggested.
“Didn’t Wildarson offer to pay you for carrying it?” the Drow asked.
“Only on return of the stones. But Winterhaven is a long ways off, we could use a little spending money while we’re here in the Spire” Galt countered.
“Hmm, very well, I’ll give you 100 gold for your troubles” came Gendar’s reply.
“Seems like the dagger is worth a lot more than that.”
“Don’t push your luck, halfling.”
Reaching under the counter, Gendar brought out a small lock box and retrieved the gold. Handing over the fortune stones and the gold, he asked “Will you be staying in the Labyrinth very long? I’m looking for some able bodied adventurers to retrieve an item of value for me.”
Galt’s interest was piqued, “My companions and I might be interested in helping you out. What did you have in mind and what kind of payment could we expect?”
Gendar explained that the item was an ancient skull sceptre; nonmagical, purely ornamental. It’s meaningless to him but he has a buyer who would be interested in it. The sceptre was in his possession but it was stolen by some duergar when they ambushed his agents while they were bringing it to him.
“A duergar in the Horned Hold currently possess the sceptre” Gendar explained, “but it clearly belongs to me. If you happen to come across either the sceptre or the duergar in your travels, I shall pay you handsomely for returning the sceptre to me. A man by the name of Taran can guide you to the Horned Hold. You can find him at the Halfmoon Inn.”
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying Rendil’s hospitality at the Halfmoon Inn. As promised, the stew was excellent and the ale flowed freely all night. When the party decided to retire for the evening, clean rooms with warm beds greeted them.
Early the next morning, the party was up and preparing to investigate the Bloodreavers when Brugg came calling.
“Yous has to follow me. Da mages wants to talk .”
Not wanting to upset the burly ogre, the party followed Brugg through the town to a large minotaur statue in the square.
“Walk in da circle. It take yous to da mages.” he said, pointing to a set of glowing runes at the statue’s feet.
“Wow, a teleportation ring!” exclaimed Galt.
“Is that thing safe?” came Balomir’s worried reply.
“Yeah, I’ve seen these things before. You don’t have anything to worry about… they rarely fail.” Galt said as he eagerly stepped through the circle, vanishing instantly.
One by one, the rest of the party followed through the ring, disappearing into thin air.
“C’mon Balomir, you’re not afraid are you?” Paelias asked before disappearing himself.
“I’m not afraid of yer damned elf magic” Balomir grumbled before cautiously approaching the circle. “Hmm, rarely fail” he whispered as he stepped on the glowing runes and felt himself travel through the ether, reappearing in a darkened chamber.
Book shelves piled with tomes and scrolls lined the room. In the centre was a large wooden desk; behind it sat a human wearing dark robes.
“Welcome to the Seven-Pillared Hall, my friends. I’ve heard a great deal about your adventures” he spoke softly. “The mage guild has need of your abilities. One of our brothers has gone rogue and disappeared into the Labyrinth. Look into the activities of Paldemar and you will earn the favour of my brotherhood.”
“Do you know what he’s doing?” asked Paelias.
“Paldemar has not checked in for many weeks and the few reports I have received of his activities in the Labyrinth have left me… uneasy. Help me and the mage guild will owe you a debt of gratitude.”
“Do you know why he left?” asked Galt.
“I only know what I have already told you” replied the mage. “Now, I must excuse myself as I am extremely busy. Good day.”
With a wave of his hand, the party was whisked away; finding themselves standing beside the minotaur statue in the town square.